Local, Independant and Effective

Question Without Notice - Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull - Indi NBN survey results

Posted September 25, 2014

 

CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Communications. The NBN rollout is beginning in my electorate, for which I am very grateful. It will bring improved internet and mobile phone coverage to many households and businesses. The broadband quality and availability survey has been done to gather information on the success of this

rollout. Can the minister please tell the House how my electorate of Indi rated? And will the government commit to prioritising the worst areas identified in the survey?

MALCOLM TURNBULL (Wentworth—Minister for Communications) (14:31): I thank the honourable member for her question. The broadband quality survey that the government undertook shortly after the election was the first of its kind. It was the first time any government actually sought to find out where broadband was good, bad or indifferent across Australia. We surveyed 78,000 distribution areas across Australia, of which 832 are in the honourable member's electorate.

Of those distribution areas, 71 per cent have access to ADSL, which is below the national average, although six per cent of those DAs that have access to ADSL have access to very poor service. In common with many regional electorates, most of the
residents in the honourable member's electorate live in large centres—in Wodonga, in Wangaratta—where broadband access is generally good at the moment, although it will become a lot better. But of course the residents who live outside those towns—in the country, in smaller communities and of course a long way from exchanges—typically have very poor broadband.

What we are doing is building a massive fixed-wireless network across Australia.

Already in the electorate of Indi there are four fixed-wireless towers active, with 1,271 premises covered, and construction is underway on another seven. Across the country the fixed-wireless network is active or under construction
in 50 electorates.

We have increased its reach from 38,000 premises to 127,000 premises, and construction is currently underway on 82,000 premises. In other words, there are more than 700 fixed-wireless towers that are either active or under construction. This is a
really transformative technology, because typically it is addressing areas that have virtually no broadband access at all, and once the fixed wireless is turned on they have access to 25 megabits per second, which is better than most people in the big cities have.

This fixed-wireless rollout was colossally bungled by the Labor Party. Not only did Labor not have the spectrum
but they did not even own the spectrum that was required to do the job, so we have had to go to great lengths to secure that additional spectrum, something Labor had no plan for.

But, incredibly, the Labor Party estimated that there would be only 230,000 users of the fixed-wireless network by 2021. It turns out that there is going to be somewhere between a minimum of 440,000 and 620,000. How could you get something so wrong? Only the Labor Party could do that.